Showing posts with label AEF. Show all posts
Showing posts with label AEF. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Another letter from WW1

I've transcribed another letter from the American Expeditionary Forces surgeon whose letters I'm scanning.

I hope it goes without saying that the disparaging comments made in this letter are not our views, collectively or individually, and from reading Captain Otken's letters as I have over the past couple of weeks, I would also say that he would not speak this way today.

"Bordeaux Sat Oct 5th

My dearest Lois:

Received Mama’s and Frances letters of Aug. 20th & Sister’s of Sept 8th this week – needless to say was glad to get so much news from home & to know that all are getting along as well as they are.

We are awfully busy, have nearly three thousand patients and eighteen ward surgeons to take care of them, so you can see what we have to do. Have lots of the Spanish Flu – with its chief complication – Pneumonia – consequently we are losing quite a number. I lost count of the number of hospital trains we got this week – four I believe – seems like I have been up nearly all night every night this week. So far I have had nothing but surgical cases – they sent me the one with the most severe wounds – have sixty severe patients now – some have as high as eight big wounds – every man has to be dressed every day & I do all my own operating – I didn’t get out of the op. room until six o’clock tonight – so you see how much idle time I have.

I got some fine pictures of some of the big wounds in my ward – will have others made when I close them up. My face case I wrote you about has healed up now, both operations were successful & he has a fairly presentable face. Am going to have a picture made of him. We got in a lot of sick & wounded officers this week but none that I knew – one from Brownsville Texas lives just a few doors from Effie Pornell Feuder. It has been real cold here the past week especially at night, have had several heavy frosts.

You folks mustn’t expect a letter every week – I write you at least once a week but a mail boat doesn’t leave every week & remember the millions of letter that go from the A.E.F. – and then you can see the reason why they come in bunches, if one could only see one of these mail boats unload in New York, you would cease wondering at the delay.

I hope Spencer improves at Ft. McPherson which I think he will – those cases generally get better in course of time – I don’t know of any treatment that will do them any good except massage & exercise. His sciatic nerve – the big nerve to the leg is probably involved [?] – neurasthenia is where a person imagines they have something that they haven’t. We see lots of them in the army – it is a racial characteristic of Jews and Dago’s.

The war news is certainly encouraging – with Bulgaria’s surrender – Turkey is cut off from Germany & Austria so it is only a question of time before she falls & every thing points to internal dissension & revolution in Germany – there are all kinds of peace rumors rife these days. Meanwhile the Allies keep on hammering on the Germans on all fronts – something is going to break ere long. Am getting some fine experience but I’ll be glad when it is all over with & we can come back to our own country once more.

As to Gidiere I spoke to George Wolhecht about him when I was home last – he & Frank will attend to that all right. Will start once more – the lights went out all over the camp – so I went down to the ward to see how my operative cases were doing.

Hope Charlie can get a change before long, the kind of work he is doing is bound to grow very monotonous.

A new ruling forbids putting the name of your organization on your letter in the upper left hand corner – hence the change but address me the same as usual – it does not apply to mail addressed to us – I can’t see the idea of the rule myself but it is so.

Be careful & don’t any of you take any risks and get sick.

Love to all at home – a kiss for each of you.


Capt. LB Otken M.C.

US Base Hosp. 22

B.S. #2 A.P.O. 705"

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Letters Home from the Front

A few weeks ago we received a small collection of letters from the descendants of a World War 1 American Expeditionary Forces surgeon. I've been scanning them so we can give digital and printed copies back to the family. Today I came across one that I've transcribed to post here. The surgeon is Luther B. Otken. He served in France and in the US. I realize this isn't as good as the handwritten letter, but it was multiple pages. I will post a scan of a page here and there so you can get a feel for the real thing, but in the meantime, here's one letter home.

"Bordeaux Sunday Sept 22 1918
Dearest Mother,

I didn’t get my letter from home this week –however I got a bundle of papers from Sister.

Everything running along in its usual manner now. Work going very smoothly. We got in a lot of new patients this week, among them a lot of wounded German prisoners – all came from the St. Mihiel fight a rather stolid ignorant looking lot, some old, some mere boys, one a Lieut, looks to be about nineteen years old. About half of them came in on litters, badly wounded, our boys had certainly worked on them with hand grenades. All my boys are getting along nicely – all getting well. One of the nurses in BH114, the unit next to us, died Friday from pneumonia – don’t know what part of the States she came from.

Our boys won a great victory at St. Mihiel + today we got word that Metz is just about to fall – I think the morale of the German army is fast weakening.

I operated a second time on my face case this week and completed the job, think I am going to get a fine result.

On some of the field cards that came in on the wounded in this last convoy, I noticed where Maj. Ney was the operator in Evacuation Hospital #4 so guess he is over here now.

We have been having a quite a lot of rain and it has turned much cooler – the nights are cold. The days feel like our fall days. Makes me want to be back there again out in the pine hills once more.

We have been in France three months now – the 19th , in one way it seems a long time in another it seems that we got here but yesterday.

I don’t hardly think we will win this war before Xmas but I don’t think it will even last another year, the Allies are hitting them at all points and are giving them no rest so that the German reserves are just about used up.

Hope I get some mail from you next week, we are about due some more mail from the States.

Hope all at home keep in their usual good health. Give my best to Dr’s. Inirs[?] + Reahew.

Love to all at home

Capt LB Otken M.C.
US Base Hospital 22"